Sources close to Team Bondi, developers of the fairly recent L.A. Noire, are reporting that assets and intellectual properties owned by the company have been sold off. This adds fire to recent rumors that the studio is heading towards bankruptcy. While no formal filing has been declared, it should be noted that legal practice in Australia may cause bankruptcy filing to take up to 28 days to go public.
Sources for Develop Magazine claims that the assets from Team Bondi have been transferred to Kennedy Miller Mitchell (KMM), a Sydney based production studio founded by Mad Max and Happy Feet director George Miller. This studio has a branch that works in the gaming industry and many former Team Bondi members who left during L.A. Noire‘s “hostile and brutal” development cycle have already found work there. Team Bondi boss Brendan McNamara recently told his team members that they were to either accept a position with Miller’s studio or take a severance package. Recent sightings of McNamara touring the KMM studio with his staff also seem to suggest a large migration of the staff. The way things are looking, it is possible that KMM is in the process of buying out Team Bondi, possibly saving it from going bankrupt.
It will be interesting to see what, if any, repercussions the reunion of Team Bondi members with former staff will have at KMM. Given the arduous development history of L.A. Noire, long considered to be in “development hell”, one wonders whether or not there are still some hurt feelings among that group. Also of note is the large presence of Brendan McNamara, who has been in the spotlight of recent complaints from anonymous current and former Team Bondi members for his managerial style during the production of L.A. Noire.
Not long after the release of the game, former members of Team Bondi created a website called lanoirecredits.com, which contained 100 additional names not listed in L.A. Noire‘s original credits list. Interesting to note is that the omission is in violation of the International Game Developers’ Association’s rules governing game credits, which are paraphrased in this passage from the L.A. Noire credits site:
The IGDA’s Game Crediting Guide makes it quite clear that a professional credits standard should be independent of Human Resources issues. As long as developers meet the Guide’s rules for Inclusion, they are eligible for a credit (an Additional credit if they had contributed at least 30 days to the project; a Full credit if they had contributed at least 8 months to the project).
Team Bondi’s production practices, especially those regarding length of “crunch times” and employee turn-around, have been unfavorably compared to those at EA that inspired the 2004 blog “EA Spouse.” The author of EA Spouse, Zynga Lead Systems Designer Erin Hoffman, described the plight of overworked game deveopers by saying:
Ultimately, all the developers can do is work their hardest to get hired at better companies. It is every developer’s responsibility to know their rights, and be willing to fight for them.
Hoffman’s blog and the poor working conditions at EA eventually sparked three class-action lawsuits against the publisher that brought a settlement of $30,000,000 in unpaid overtime to EA employees. Taking all of this into account, it is no surprise that Team Bondi has had the troubles it has. Hopefully under new management, the studio will have a brighter future with happier employees.